Traditional Before Digital

Just the other day I was speaking to one of my colleges about figure drawing and how important it is for every visual artist to experience drawing from the figure. Some how we got onto the topic of college students learning how to figure draw using tablets. TABLETS!!!! That has to be one of the most ridiculous things I ever heard in my life. Yes tablets are very nifty tools that if you haven’t experienced working with one you should, because it really is amazing what you can do with one. But when a person learns how to draw they don’t go straight to the tablet. No, they use a piece of paper and a pencil.

If your starting to figure draw get the traditional materials that the old master used (well not the exact things, but close enough) a 18″ x 24″ newsprint pad and charcoal.  Using a tablet you don’t get the same feel or understanding of form as you would with the traditional materials. A bigger pad forces the student to think about the composition, the size of their figure and really use their whole arm movement. Charcoal is a great material to work with as well because it’s easily erasable with a needed eraser. You can also get different line weights (how dark the mark is) and different line sizes. Plus if you use the charcoal on its side, the beautiful shadow masses that could be created.

The most important reason why you should start traditionally before digitally is that you always have a basis to refer back to. Every year technology changes and computers and programs get more advanced. That means each year a professional digital artist has to upgrade to the latest software. If they don’t then their images over time would look out of date. Even if you are mainly a digital person your mind is still referring back to a time when you used a sheet of paper as your main/only medium. If you can master the basics then it makes the digital world much much easier to use and understand.

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Potential is Beautiful

Potential (adj): having or showing the capacity to become or develop into something in the future.

We see potential everyday, especially in children. This is because everyone even the child knows that they are at the beginning of their life and what they do now can lead to something bigger in the future. For example a boy playing with Legos can create the worlds tallest skyscraper, a girl who plays dress up can be the next star actor, and the boy who reads all day can be the one to end world hunger. Each little act a child does has the potential to change the world.

But when do we stop believing that those little acts are just child’s play? It’s when we are told that these dreams are just dreams and that even if we give it are all, there is still a slim chance of those dreams coming true. So we give up on trying. We go through middle school and high school drama. Then the senior year of high school comes and we are told to choose a college that would put us thousands of dollars in debt and the major we choose will determine the rest of our lives. So then your stuck in a boring job that you dread everyday for 40  to 60 years.

Before or if you are still in that horrible job stop and think about what you really love. What did you love as a child? What skill keeps coming back no matter how fare away you try to get away? It’s OK to be selfish, especially if your young like me and have no kids. Because we only have one life to live, so don’t spend a chunk of it feeling sorry for yourself.

Getting back to the point. Potential is always beautiful when you see a brighter future. When you have the passion to do 50 paintings and there would be only 1 that you feel proud of.

The Mind to Paint

Speaking from an artists perspective, it can be hard focusing on painting for 3 hours or more. For me, to paint I have to be in the right mind set. That means I can’t be a sleepless zombi or a six year old on a sugar rush. Some people don’t know this, but art takes a lot of intense brain power. For example, in one stroke you have to think about the brush your using, the color, the thickness of the paint, the pressure you put on the painting, what color your placing this stroke next to, and the texture of the stroke.

Many times during the morning many students walk into the class half a sleep. One of the reasons is that they were up late making bad decisions and getting less then four hours of sleep. The second reason is that they have not had breakfast. You need to have energy to do art.

I remember a few weeks ago during lunch time, my school was having a pie day. I had three slices of pie, cherry, blue berry, and pecan. Plus two cups of coffee. I was caught red handed by my teacher for my bad lunch. My brain was running a million miles an hour and it wouldn’t stop. The painting that I had worked on for two weeks was ruined by the end of the class and I was curled up on the side having a horrible migraine.

If you don’t have enough energy you can’t paint. If you have to much energy its hard to focus. For me to make art my mind needs enough energy to focus but slow enough that it can be patient.

The Rules For My Mind To Be In The Fine Art Zone:

1) Eat breakfast at home. This allows enough time for my food to turn into energy. Just in time for my morning class.
2) Eat healthy. Junk food doesn’t give the body enough energy it needs to last through the day. I make sure to pack my day with lots of proteins, fruits, veggies, and whole grains. But I always make sure to give myself a little treat, like a cookie or bag of chips.
3) Don’t over eat. Food is very good for you and you should NEVER starve yourself. But over eating can make you feel tired and hut you stomach.
4) Sleep 6-8 hours a night (during the week). You need sleep! I try my best to get 8 hours, but I’m a college student and that barley ever happens. My average is 7 hours a night. Over sleeping can make you feel drowsy for the rest of the day. That means on the weekends I don’t ever go past 9 hours.
5) Get into a good routine. Having a routine is helpful. It’s good for time management and it helps tell your mind when to wake up, when to eat, and when to go to sleep. Remember routines take time to figure out, but when you find a good one make sure to stick to it!
6) Do something fun. I am addicted to doing art all day, but some time during the week I know that I have to do something non art related. This could mean hanging out with my friends, exploring the city, running, or going on long bike trips. But its nice to have those moments where my life doesn’t feel totally consumed by art. (Even though it totally is).

Aiming for Perfection

Everyone knows that there is no such thing about perfection or being perfect. Heck the most beautiful things in life are imperfect. So why do some of us aim for it?

It has been about 5 weeks since I started my time at PAFA (Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts). The first few weeks were easy, but I find still find myself continue to struggle in this one class, Cast Drawing. PAFA is known for having one of the largest collections of casts in the country. Reason why PAFA students are taught to be masters at drawing from the cast.

My first cast drawing I thought I had this thing down, turns out my teacher tells me that my drawing of Venus is to thin and that the face needed more life. My opinion at the time was, “It’s one millimeter off, (trust me I measured it with a ruler) and I’m drawing from a statue why does it need to have life?” Thankfully she told me I could just use tracing paper to fix everything instead of redoing it.I have learned my lesson on using tracing paper with cast drawing. Just because your tracing over another drawing doesn’t mean you should stop looking at the cast. So my tracing of my cast drawing turned out worse then my original. My teacher said that I could just erase certain parts to make it easier, because everything was 1/2 millimeter off and somethings needed to be moved a little to the left or a little to the right or a little bit higher or just a tad bit lower. I was so mad that I just decided to do the whole thing over again. And you know what my second time was way better than my first.

During long hard process, I learned how to analyze something and how it takes time to get something right. Perfection isn’t just there to intimidate us, but for us to reach for something. If your always think that everything you do will never be perfect. Then the highest chance of perfection you could ever get is 99.99%. What about that .001%? Wheres that? It’s that little percentage of you giving up and being lazy. It’s you saying “It’s good enough”. You will not survive for very long in this world if you keep saying “It’s good enough”. Aiming for perfection is hard, but you would always learn more by trying to make it.

Learning to Read

Think back to when you were a little kid learning to read. The first thing that you needed to know was the alphabet, then the way each letter sounded, and then how you put those letters together to make words. Words become sentences, sentences become paragraphs, paragraphs become essays, essays become books and books become a library. If you only know how to read a book then books would be your only way of seeing the world. But what about paintings, or poetry, even architecture? How do you read those?

To read a painting, you should try to paint. You don’t start a painting by painting. No, you start a painting by drawing with the paint, mapping an image on to the canvas. The first 10 minutes of a painting are the most crucial, just as important as learning the alphabet. The more advanced you are as a painter the easier it is to read other paintings. Think about looking at the composition, the lighting, color, contrast, and texture. If you can understand all that then you can understand why an artist chose to paint like that. You can now see the world from a painters perspective.

To read a poem, write a poem. To read architecture than I highly suggest watching as many episodes as you can on HG TV or ask an architect.

One of my teachers in middle school said “When your a little kid you learn to read, but as you get older you read to learn.”

My College Process

This year I just went through the college process. I have never felt so stressed, sad, or pressured in my life. Now the college process is different for everyone, but this is my story.

My mom and I always knew that since I was in fifth grade my career was going to be in art. This is why my very first college tour was my freshman year in High School at Ringling College of Art + Design in Florida. The college was amazing, the studios were beautiful, the rooms were very pretty, the cafeteria looked like it served good food and the school was just a few minutes away from the beach. The perfect college in my eyes back then to a  girl who just turned fifteen. But then I heard about the tuition and I was calculating in my head room, board, books, art supplies, transportation etc. It occurred to me that if I wanted to go to a college like Ringling then I would have to work extra hard in school.

Before senior year my mom and I continued to do college tours all over the country, planning very carefully what would be the cheapest and most convenient time of the year. In four years I was able to take tours at School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Rhode Island School of Design, Alfred University, Savannah College of Art + Design, Maryland Institute College of Art, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, SUNY Purchase, School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Columbia College Chicago, Massachusetts College of Art + Design, Hampshire College etc. Before College I was also able to do the Pre-College program at Academy Art University before Junior year and the Pre-College program at Rhode Island School of Design. These experiences really helped with my final decision.

During the college process I was getting help prom Options For College, a college counseling service that specializes in helping student get into and get the most out of college. I could not have gotten into 13 out of 13 colleges without their help, plus the scholarship money I received from many of my schools.

The toughest part of the college process for me was choosing which college I should go to, where would I be most successful? In the end I choose Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA). I knew going into college that I wanted to be a painting major. I tried web design, graphic design, photography, printmaking, film, sound, set construction, fashion, illustration etc. But  I always came back to painting. PAFA was not big and fancy with their technology, but kept to their fine art roots. The school is very small and with the Undergrad and Graduate students combined there is only a student population of 300. Because of this I knew that the teachers would give me that one on one attention I crave. PAFA is also very close to my family, its in a city so I won’t get bored, there are other colleges in the neighborhood, food is amazing in Philly, everyone there is very nice, housing seems cool and very independent, I can take classes at University of Pennsylvania and I heard that PAFA really helps students with a plan to pay off their loans.

Quick Tips
– Start the college process EARLY even if you feel it might scare your kid, because it will give them a goal to focus on and start thinking about the future.
– Take your tours now, it will help you get the vibe of each campus. Plus the tour process should not be rushed, it would just put more pressure on your kid.
– Make sure your child doesn’t screw up freshman year high school because that can bring their average down by about 10 points.
– Do pre-college programs almost all colleges have them, you get to really know the school, know what college might feel like (independence), and its an amazing experience. (Many pre-college programs do offer scholarship and/or financial aid)
Options for College is an amazing service and their services are international. Plus they would be doing a talk at the Yale Club September 10th for FREE. (Just saying the food is amazing). For more
information click here